Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The RBI Report: "A Night of Neglect"

Glee's back!  It's back!  After five weeks of neglect, we finally got a new episode.  To the review!

"A Night of Neglect," written by Ian Brennan, directed by Carol Baker.

Unfortunately, this episode felt largely disconnected from the solid fare we received in "Original Song."  The show did little to remind us of the Glee Club's victory at Regionals, in characterization and tone.  In plot, of course, we got the renewal of Sue Sylvester's perennial villainy, as she assembled a ragtag team of "superheroes" - Dustin Goolsby, Sandy Ryerson, and Terri Schuester - to take down Will and his kids.  (She didn't bring bagels, though.  What gives?)

As for the Glee kids, they endeavored to put on a benefit, a "A Night of Neglect" to simultaneously honor under-appreciated artists, display their own under-used talents (Tina!  Mike!) and raise money not only for the Glee Club's trip to Regionals, but also for the Brainiacs, a newly-mentioned, lesser-known brain bowl club consisting of Mike, Tina, Artie, and... Brittany.  Phew.  That's a lot going on.

And frankly, that's really the core issue of the episode: simple conflicts piled on top of one another until they're tangled up - but still too easily resolved.  Try explaining this episode to anyone, and it will consist of ten minutes of trying to make sense of the plot and then a lot of, "And then everybody made up and got what they wanted."


This more than anything led to the fact that "A Night of Neglect" was underwhelming.  As much as I loved the reveal that Brittany was on a competitive quiz team, and that the Glee Club was championing the success of the Brainiacs, the episode just got bogged down in tired, unnecessary conflict.  The idea of Sue plotting against the Glee Club gets old quickly.  So they needlessly brought in Sunshine and her random Twitter followers/questionable intentions, and the Heckler's Club, and Dustin Goolsby's Random Seduction, and Sandy Ryerson's Pink Dagger villainy.  And it was all fixed by some saltwater taffy, a heart-to-heart with Holly, and the reminder that Sandy Ryerson does indeed love showtunes and donating his drug money.  Oh, and Sunshine didn't show and we wondered why the hell she was even there in the first place.

The Will/Emma angst separation is wearing thin as well.  The episode skirted along their Obviously Burdened Love for One Another, and all it took was one well-timed conversation about OCD and a convenient job opening in Cleveland to pave the way for a reunion.  I will say that Emma broke my heart in her scene, and although I don't quite understand why the show takes her OCD so seriously (when they breeze right past a lot of other issues that didn't even start as quirky character jokes) I appreciated the action they gave Will - to share her struggle, a bit, by helping her with her lunch.  I almost wish there weren't any dialogue over that action, because the action itself was strong, and the first moment in a long time where I've cared about their dynamic.

The other intriguing interaction in the episode was the Rachel/Mercedes duo.  We had to slog through some poorly-anchored diva behavior from Mercedes, but the payoff very nearly made up for it.  The conversation between Rachel and Mercedes was the only moment in the whole episode that actually involved characters interacting, having a push-and-pull about their similarities and differences.  And how great was Rachel?  Everything fit with her character, but didn't alienate her from her peers or the audience.  Although, I must say, when Mercedes asked why Rachel is a bigger star than her, I said aloud, "Because the writers wrote you that way, honey."

But hopefully, as Rachel urged Mercedes to stand up and fight for her solos, that the writers will begin to respect her character more as well.  The storyline played with meta and the fourth wall (as did the bit about harsh criticism on the internet... hi, writers!) and it's ironic that Mercedes wanted respect in the narrative, when in actuality the character hardly gets it from the writers themselves.  (Tots, anyone?  Need I say more.)

Finally, it seems that we should be expecting a renewal of the Kurt-Karofsky storyline, complete with Santana and Blaine as key players.  I'm ready for it.  Who didn't love Santana threatening Karofsky within an inch of his life?  Bring it on, sister.  We all want you to use the razor blades you hide in your hair.  And don't think Santana didn't notice the little slip where Kurt mentioned Karofsky's secret.

By the end of "A Night of Neglect," it wasn't really clear that any of the under-appreciated characters were any more appreciated, although it was lovely to see Mercedes tear the house down with her solo - and even lovelier to see Rachel let it be.  But for instance, where did the rest of Tina's solo go?  And what's the count on Tina's Cry-o-Meter?  And supposedly the whole purpose of this episode was to get money for the Brainiacs and yet we hardly got any focus on those four.  The theme went awry as soon as we realized that Charice and Gwyneth Paltrow got full solos and Tina got booed off the stage.  Sigh.

In all, this episode was mostly devoid of real character moments and interactions, and was defined more by tired conflict, needlessly complicated obstacles, and all-too-easy resolution.  The book closes on another episode, and the only thing that will likely carry over to the next is Terri Schuester (or should I say the Honey Badger?) in her neverending role as Crazy Villain, and the Kurt-Karofsky interaction.  So let's just forget "A Night of Neglect" like "A Night of Neglect" forgot "Original Song" and just happily anticipate Kurt's blessed return to McKinley!

The RBI Report Card...
Musical Numbers: A
Dance Numbers: A (Bubble Toes!)
Dialogue: B
Plot: D

Characterization: C
Episode MVP: Tina Cohen-Chang.  If the writers won't do it, I will.


  1. At every commercial break I kept looking at the clock wondering when the episode was going to start. There were wonderful little moments but the story as a whole was so awful, including the League of Doom. I mean, you have a very predatory gay man who could really tear into the insecurities of the Glee boys. Puck anyone? Sandy's "touched" him before, he's neglected and abused by his girlfriend and his friend Artie has abandoned him. Or how about Finn? See above using/abusive girlfriend, can't dance, insecure about his place in the world. Oh the wasted opportunities! Creepy funny Sandy!

    And we get the Heckler club instead. Sigh.

    Oh! and Sunshine! Why didn't Dustin get info from her about the inner workings of the club especially the fact that that they don't listen to their most talented member and leader, Rachel. Divide and conquer, decide weakest link in the group, get them to quit, stir up animosity. Gah!

    Why was Mercedes suddenly willing to bow down to Rachel's whims? The best part of that whole story line was Lauren's initial reaction, how disturbed she was. The rest was just silly although I would have been entertained by the appearance of Puck with a puppy. Puppies are always scene stealers and this episode could use it.

    Something is way wrong when guest stars are the only ones to get full solos (and Mercedes I guess) Turning Tables was particularly useless. She didn't do justice to it, the full string orchestra behind her was ridiculous and I felt relieved when she walked away into the dark hallway. Dramatically that means she's gone for good right?

  2. Agree with almost all of it - I would describe this episode
    as mostly awful with only a couple of shining moments.
    Naya Rivera deserves a pay rise, how many episodes has she almost single handedly saved the show from "utter crap". The guest stars can tell their stories walking for all I care. GP you're a great chick but it's time for you to move on - you are starting to do the show more harm than good, and honey - you're not much chuff as a singer, let it go.......

  3. I think a better title would have been 'Suck it,viewers! This is just a filler until next week's big Gaga-themed episode! And don't forget to buy the lackluster performances of songs you heard tonight on itunes!'

    For me,this was the worst episode since the one with all the Britney Spears songs.

    The only worthwhile scene was the Karofsky business. It almost felt like it was phoned in from another episode.
    The scene with in the car with Mercedes & Rachel was okay, but yeah,just a little too meta/nudge nudge for me.
    I really wish Terry would just stay away, her arc, it's over. She's just not an interesting character.

    (sorry for my attempt to apply logic to 'Glee' in this next paragraph!)
    And this idea that "everyone within 50 miles of Lima hates New Directions ergo they're the ultimate underdogs" is tired & played out. They played their benefit show to an empty auditorium? If nothing else, don't the gospel singers and string section musicians have friends and families? No one else from Mercedes' church? Kurt's dad/Finn's mom wouldn't show? Doesn't Holly seem like the sort who would give extra credit for students who attended the benefit? Did Sue tear down every flier for the concert and delete all social media promoting the event?
    And another reason it was stupid:
    People like winners(many teens especially like "winners" who look like Naya Rivera,Cory Montieth,Diana Agron,etc and will show up to check them out on stage). New Directions won Sectionals last year,Regionals this year. Winning creates fans. At least a few dozen people(high school age or otherwise) would have become fans of ND by now and shown up for the benefit. The empty aud was a weak premise, just not credible.

  4. @J.A. Morris

    A filler episode that had those few set ups sprinkled through out (the Wemma moment, the Klainetana vs Karofsky scene, Quinn campaigning for PQ while handling the taffy, etc) and that was enjoyable would've been fine. A filler episode isn't intrinsically a bad episode. But this one just sucked.

    It makes me lose my faith in the writers' ability to focus a story if they would rather spend time on pointless BS rather than develop things with real story potential. I mean, the Santana slushee gets a couple of 2 second flashbacks, but creepy VA guy can have a whole scene of unfunny, pointless, creepy Holy seducing?

    Really glee? REALLY?

    It makes me fear that BTW will be all about Finn's dancing instead of stuff people really struggle with or is interesting, like Santana and Dave's sexuality, for example.

  5. "If the writers don't do it, I will". And I'm so sad to be convinced by now that they won't. Honestly, Tina's scene felt for me (and probably for Jenna as well) like a slap on the face. How hypocritical is all of this? So it's all about neglected characters, but the truth is that guest stars GP and Charice get full solos (Charice's felt specially pointless and contractual, if you know what I mean), while Tina, once AGAIN, has her solo interrupted and is completely pushed away from the plot. No revenge, no backstory. If the writers had the slightest compassion for her and plot consistency, she should have come back to finish her song. Which was, in my opinion, awesome during the few seconds it lasted. The way she entered the stage, cool and mysterious, her gestures, her sensual body language. It was all incredibly cool. The song itself was brilliant and perfect for Tina's character and voice. 15 seconds in, it all gets ruined for "comedic" purposes. Certainly not funny for me...

    Compare it to Charice: clichéd song, coupled with clichéd belting and clichéd diva gestures. Full song, everybody clapping.

    What was the chapter's "theme" again?


  6. Ok, so, I FINALLY caught up on the episodes. All I have to say about this one is SANTANA I LUFF YOU

    Also I love Sue's codenames. GENERAL ZOD. PINK DAGGER. HONEY BADGER. And that other dude.

    But yeah...I'ma start cutting people if Tina doesn't start getting her due. I loved the Brainiacs stuff, but I love Tina singing more.


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